3 best landing spots for Eric Berry in NFL free agency
After nine seasons of leading the Kansas City Chiefs defense, strong safety Eric Berry now hits NFL free agency. Berry was a special player while he was on the field, making five Pro Bowls, three All-Pro teams, and beating Hodgkin’s lymphoma.
His release will cost the Chiefs nearly $15 million in dead cap this year, but they save $1.5 million as a result of not paying his salary. Berry has struggled with injuries throughout his career, missing a total of 55 games, but he’s been hurt a lot recently, playing in only three contests total in 2017 and 2018 due to a ruptured Achilles.
Any team that signs Berry will be taking a risk, as there is no guarantee that he will be healthy for all or most of the season, and if he is, that he will be close to the dominant player he used to be.
Here are three teams that have an opening for Berry.
3. Indianapolis Colts
The Colts were a surprise last season, making the playoffs and blowing out the Houston Texans before falling to the Chiefs in the divisional round.
Andrew Luck had a great year behind a rebuilt offensive line, but the Colts defense was also excellent. Defensive coordinator Matt Eberflus’s work earned him legitimate head coach consideration, and it would not be a surprise to see him leading a team in 2020.
Malik Hooker is a ballhawk at free safety, but Indy could use an upgrade from Clayton Geathers at SS. Taking a flyer on Berry would be well worth the risk, as the Colts still have over $90 million in cap space. If Berry can return to form, Indianapolis would have one of the best safety tandems in the league.
2. Chicago Bears
A double-doink field goal miss cost the Bears a playoff win, and many fans are still feeling sick about that game. However, that loss shouldn’t overshadow a successful first season for head coach Matt Nagy, and Chicago will once again be very competitive in the NFC North.
Their free agent additions thus far haven’t been flashy, but the Bears don’t really need to make any big moves, as their roster is very solid already. The loss of safety Adrian Amos to the rival Green Bay Packers hurts, but Eric Berry would be a nice replacement at the right price.
Eddie Jackson is one of the best safeties in football, so Berry would be able to move around the field and contribute in different ways, without having to worry about being the best tackler and coverage player in the secondary. Even with the addition of Ha Ha Clinton-Dix, Berry could have a big role in Chicago’s defense, as NFL teams are playing three safeties at an increasing rate, and all three players would have the ability to play in deep coverage and run support.
1. Cleveland Browns
From the moment Berry was rumored to be a trade candidate, the Browns have been listed as a landing spot.
Berry’s former general manager, John Dorsey, is the architect of a Cleveland roster suddenly bursting with talent. The Browns sent Jabrill Peppers to New York as part of the Odell Beckham Jr. trade, so there is now a hole at SS.
Berry would be a perfect fit as long as he can stay healthy. All three teams on this list should be in the playoff hunt all season, but Cleveland is arguably the most talented, as well as the most unproven. Berry would provide playoff experience and leadership, even if he isn’t playing at the level he was back in 2015.